Build an Earthquake Emergency Kit

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In Alaska, there comes a time when you will feel an earthquake, no matter where you live. Whether in South Central, Interior, North Slope, South East, or the Aleutians, you will feel them. There are many of you in the lower 48 who live with the possibility of earthquakes, too. Building an earthquake emergency kit is something none of us can afford to NOT think about.

You can prepare for an earthquake by taking just a few steps.

For instance, everyone in the family should know what to do when an earthquake strikes. Things like where the utility shut-off valves are located and how to turn them off, and having an emergency kit packed and ready to go, which is the focus of this article.

image: woman packing a backpack earthquake emergency kit

Building an Earthquake Emergency Kit

Here is what you need in case you cannot stay at your house and need to evacuate.
  1. A large-ish type backpack. An older Army rucksack works well, and they are generally inexpensive.
  2. N95 face masks to help filter out dust and fine debris
  3. Safety glasses to protect eyes
  4. A whistle to get attention if you’re trapped
  5. Red Cross emergency app on your phone
  6. Flashlight and other light sources
  7. A small first aid kit
  8. Some type of food that you and your family may like
  9. Small water purifying system with a water bottle
  10. All medications you will need for at least two weeks
  11. Warm clothes, socks, and a pair of slippers. You will need to air out your shoes/boots when hunkering down for a night so as not to have problems with your feet later.
  12. A tent (lightweight) or tarp in which to get out of the elements. (I recommend throwing in a couple of those thermal cellophane blankets, as you don’t have to just use them for a blanket but as a small tarp on the ground.)
  13. A lightweight sleeping bag or blanket, depending on the time of year
  14. Waterproof matches AND a lighter all in plastic bags. You can have soggy waterproof matches, so sticking them in a plastic bag will assure that you WILL have a fire.
  15. A small magazine or paper in a plastic bag. This will help with lighting a fire if the elements are soggy or undesirable.
  16. A bottle or two of HEAT. Heat for your car is an excellent way to get a fire going quickly as it is mainly alcohol. Make sure to make a fire pit and only use it sparingly as it is EXTREMELY combustible.
  17. Toilet paper in a plastic bag
  18. A lightweight shovel
  19. A small radio. There are hand-cranked types, but these do not do so well in the cold.  Please be aware.
  20. A small-ish aluminum pot in which to boil water for food or just to drink in case you do not have a purifier.
  21. An eye dropper size bottle of bleach
  22. A small bottle of body wash and a washcloth. Do not use wipes as they can dry out your skin.
  23. A small bottle of lotion, just in case you do need it
  24. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  25. Chapstick or something similar
  26. Sunglasses and any eyewear (an old pair of glasses in a case).
  27. A firearm with at least one box of ammo or shells. (.22 and 12 gauge) NO MATTER WHAT!

These items are quick to grab and go in any situation. You’ll be the one who needs to figure out what other items will be needed.

Also, if you have children make sure to put a lightweight stuffed animal and coloring books with a small pack of crayons in their pack or yours. It will help later with their emotions as it is their way to get their emotions out.

Gear Specifically for Right After an Earthquake

There are items you’ll want to have available right away. Read more about Gear You Need in the Immediate Aftermath of an Earthquake.

Modifications for Winter

Winter brings more problems. You can use exactly what I recommended but in heavier-duty clothing, a tent, and sleeping bags. You can also use a child’s sled to help with the items you bring. Just make sure you have a sturdy rope so you can drag the bundles, as well as have a sled that has higher sides.

If you are in tsunami areas, grab your bag and get to the highest elevation you can. The higher you can get, the better your chance of saving your life!

These are recommendations. Always layer clothing! Make sure you have a plan, whether going to a friend’s cabin, your own cabin or hunkering it out. Be safe for you and your family. Only you can protect yourself and your family! Read more earthquake safety tips.

What do you include in your earthquake emergency kit?

Guest post by upinak, Alaskan Preppers Network

10 thoughts on “Build an Earthquake Emergency Kit”

  1. I lived in LA for 12 yrs. We had our emergency kit in the garage, the gas shut off wrench stayed handy near the door. We could've been better prepared (and we are now), but we did better than most. What I decided over my year in LA is this: an emergency prep kit makes an OUTSTANDING wedding gift. Someone will probably get them the china they won't use, and the kitchen gadgets that look cool, but it's unlikely that anyone else will give them this. Our former daycare provider got married recently and we gave her collapsible 5 gallon water bottles, water purification tablets, and sleeping bags made from the same stuff as emergency blankets. Even if you think someone already has a basic pack, there are plenty of nice add-ons you can get them, like having sleeping bags instead of just blankets from that silvery emergency blanket stuff.

    Most people know they should do all this, but don't. So far, the people we've given it to really appreciate it. One couple also got a second "emergency" kit, since it was their wedding. It had wine glasses, a bottle of wine, corkscrew, Mad Cow spreadable cheese, and crackers, in a small backpack. All from the Dollar Store, but that part was just for fun anyhow. 🙂

  2. Outstanding story and amazing list. Great idea with the pillow case of supplies too! Imagine the confusion and hysteria one could suffer when shocked awake in the the middle of the night (earthquake, fire alarm, etc). The bag of supplies give you something to immediately focus on with a plan to execute. I'm off to buy a gas wrench and glasses case….

  3. Pingback: Safety Tip of the Day « Are You Ready? Emergency Preparedness & Response

  4. Pingback: My Earthquake Bag |

  5. As a "survivor" of 11,500 earthquakes ,yes the number is correct, in Christchurch New Zealand I can give you a quick precis on the basic minimums we needed. Food and water for 5 days. Candles and some means for cooking; we used the bbq. Water became a problem for some very quickly and we even in this country had people using storm water sumps to get enough to drink after boiling (?)
    We choose a "stay in place" strategy as we lived in a warehouse which was very defensible.
    Fortunately I run a fairly prepared household with months of food and some water, candles gas etc. So gathered in close friends as well. We were without power water etc for 4 days before some minimal services came on in our central area of the city. The situation showed me the prospect of things getting very out of hand if things had taken another 3 days to come back on-line. By my estimate 5-7 days to chaos even in NZ.
    We live in a civilised society but even so we had "loser marauders" with bikes and back-packs looking for places to burgle and I don't mean grocery and hardware stores. They were looking for valuables ,lap-tops etc.

    My advise don't depend on "official" assistance in the first 3 days, it'll take them that long to work out the politics of a response and it'll be worse if you live in a low socio-economic area, I'll guarantee it !!!

    Moral of my story: I've moved my family out of the area and re-settled 300 miles away. We are probably prepped for 6 months with most things, from bikes to tarps to hand operated tools ,seeds, dehydrator and a 10,000 litre water tank. One thing the quakes did was develop a "survivalist" mindset.
    My city is a mess, our 2 businesses destroyed and it will take at least 20 years to become a city again despite optimistic murmuring from many…….
    "Prepare for the worst and you can hope for the best………."

    We choose a "stay in place" strategy as we lived in a warehouse which was very defensible

  6. I’ve got something like the pillowcase, but instead I went to the thrift store and got a backpack. It’s easier to carry. I might add some freezer bags,water purification tablets,small sewing kit, cards (entertainment) and the sas book or this all might just be overkill

  7. I would consider placing a cache of emergency goods outside the house where it can be accessed if I had to leave the house and couldn’t go back inside.

  8. I was in L.A. during the Northridge earthquake. I was young and terribly unprepared for a quake despite living in California 95% of my life. Electricity was out for a week and no stores allowed people in. You lined up outside and asked them for what you needed and they brought it to the door in exchange for cash payment. There was very little available and much of it was over-priced. A neighbor gave me two stubs of candles and my boss (who was at the office to tell people we were closed) loaned me cash.

    30 years later, I am much better prepared for such emergencies.

    One thing rarely mentioned in earthquake preparedness are the after shocks. They went on for days after the main quake. The windows rattled and the building shook. If it didn’t fall/break earlier, it can during the after shocks. Do not let your guard down just because “it’s over.”

    A second consideration is a plan to leave the immediate area of a localized event such as an earthquake or power-outage, even if no evacuation is ordered. The biggest issue for this plan is of course money for gas, lodging and food, if you don’t have family or friends to go to. If you have children, elderly or disabled on your household, leaving the area may be the better action. How do you keep medical equipment running and medications refrigerated. Relocation can provide faster access to medical care and hygiene. One or two people manage with electricity, running water, refrigeration, wi-fi, supermarkets, communications and plumbing. It’s very different if you have to boil water outside just to brush their teeth and watch the generator to keep the CPAP machine working.

  9. Very well-written article. Experiencing an earthquake is definitely one of the scariest things, so it’s essential to be prepared. Quick question, why do you put your emergency survival kit in a pillowcase? Personally, I think it’s better to put the items in a waterproof bag.

    1. The Survival Mom

      I think the person who wrote this chose a pillowcase because it’s something everyone has. Thanks for reminding me of this really helpful article from the archives!

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